Audio News for November 23, 2007

by | Nov 23, 2007 | Audio News | 0 comments

Epson Introduces First Really Complete Home Theater System – Epson America, which specializes in printers and image capture products, has been testing the home theater market and just won a CES Innovations 2008 award for their new Ensemble HD Home Cinema System.  It is designed to seamlessly transform virtually any residential space into a high-performance home cinema, at a more reasonable cost than assembling comparable HT system components. The Ensemble HD includes a hi-def front projector, integrated sound system by Atlantic Technology, a motorized movie screen, an AV controller with built-in DVD player, a universal remote and equipment cabinet.  The front channel speakers are hidden inside the 100-inch motorized screen, and the two surround speakers are concealed in the speaker cradle of the video projector. This achieves highest quality sound with the usual hassle of surround speaker systems.  (No mention was made of a subwoofer.) All necessary mounts, cables and materials for professional installation are provided, and the work is said to take as little as four hours. The system will be available in January in both a 720p version at $5000 and a 1080p version at $7000.

Don’t forget the AV Receiver! – This may be old hat for most of our readers, but with all the public attention focused on flat-screen video displays, many people are just plugging all their home theater components directly into the back of their new video displays and ignoring the heart of a good HT system – an AV receiver or preamp.  No built-in speaker setup in a TV can possibly equal the sonic experience provided by even six modest-sized speakers spaced properly around the room. Surveys have shown that a surround sound system enhances the video experience even more than a larger screen.

There are dozens of reasonably-priced multichannel receivers currently available, and some of them provide hefty five or seven-channel amplifiers (if your choice of speakers require that) rather than the low-power alternatives formerly offered.  Most of the latest models also now offer the new HDMI connections, which can simplify the wiring hassle by carrying all multichannel audio plus hi-res video on the same single cable. Many will allow switching between various HDMI source components and most will also accept component or S-video inputs from legacy players such as laserdisc or VHS, and in the process enhance their lower-resolution by upconverting image quality. Another feature to look for is if the AV receiver allows for making either an Ethernet wire connection or a Wi-Fi wireless one to your computer in another room.  With that you can navigate thru all the audio and video files on your PC and select files to play thru your HT system.  You might even be able to listen to streaming audio from Net broadcasters, and some receivers are also including reception of one or both of the satellite radio services.  Lastly, those with more audiophile leanings will want to make the center of their HT system not an AV receiver but an AV preamp, using a separate multichannel basic amp or even five monoblocks to power their speakers – the subwoofer will have its own amplification built in.  AV preamps usually boast even more features and control possibilities than receivers. (And they’re lighter – less likely to crash to the floor when you place them on your cabinet shelf.)

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